These are brief instructions to students who’ve received Undergraduate Vacation Bursaries and MSc. Bursaries on the format of a short report for BSPP News. It will help us greatly if you follow these instructions carefully.
Your target audience is readers of BSPP News, i.e. the membership of BSPP. You can assume that readers have good general knowledge of plant pathology and of biology in general, but not that they have specific knowledge of the specific area of your research project.
What should the report be about?
The report should be written as one piece of continuous text. It should not be subdivided into ‘Introduction’, ‘Methods’, ‘Results’, ‘Discussion’ and ‘Conclusions’ (etc). Think of it more as an exercise in scientific journalism (though aimed at a fairly specialist audience) than a formal scientific report in the manner of a practical class write-up. Try to write it so that a knowledgeable reader can understand what you were doing and why without undue effort.
The report should ideally blend what the science was about with what you got out of it personally. There is no absolute list of points that must (or mustn’t be made) so the following should be regarded just as suggestions. Imagination and originality are more than welcome, in writing your report as much as in your science!
- What does the supervisor’s lab do and how did your project fit into the general area of work? (That’s like an ‘Introduction’, but don’t call it that!)
- What did you do? (That’s like a ‘Methods’ section, but…)
- What did you find? (‘Results’…?) What problems were there and how did you overcome them (if you did manage to overcome them…?)
- What are the implications, either for your supervisor’s research programme or for the relevant area of science in general (‘Discussion’/’Conclusion’…?)
- How has this period of research work affected your career – in general? or as a plant pathologist? How do you think you benefitted from it (if you did…?)
So that makes 5 short paragraphs, but there’s absolutely no need at all to stick to this format.
Please don’t include tables or long lists of numerical results unless there’s a very good reason for doing so. Figures are much better for the reader (see below).
At some point, please include your supervisor’s name, his/her university/institute/company and the name of your university or college.
Please send your report by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org in MS Word or RTF format.
…are very welcome. Please send images in JPEG, TIFF or bitmap format, at least 300 dots per inch resolution minimum. Please check the size of the file before sending it. A file or a set of files larger than 2 MB in total must be sent on a CD, not by e-mail. Please include a short description of the picture(s).
In general, deadlines are the 2nd Friday of January, May and September, for the spring, summer and autumn issues of BSPP News (to be distributed in February, June and October respectively).
BSPP News is a private newsletter, not a publication. If someone wishes to refer to your report in BSPP News, they should contact you, either personally or through me as the editor of BSPP News, for permission to cite your report as a personal communication.